Of course, it all began in 1986. US Gold had the licence for the World Cup, and promised a game that would trounce everything previously seen in the history of the world. When World Cup Carnival turned up, the large box was US Gold's and really quite impressive, but the game was Artic's gargantuanly awful Something Soccer. "Programming difficulties" had prevented the everything-trouncing epic from turning up, but at least you got some badges and stickers in the box to make up for the two-year-old crap game, eh?
Ripple dissolve to 1994. US Gold have the licence for the World Cup, and promise a game that will trounce everything previously seen in the history of the world. Suddenly, the game is on sale. Strangely, magazine have not been sent review copies. Is it because the majority of software sales take place in the first week? Could US Gold really be trading on their roster of great games like Flashback and Monkey Island in order to pass World Cup '94 to some ill-informed shmuckos? Only you can decide. But World Cup '94 is near impossibly terrible.
The first thing that kicks you accurately in the face is the loading time. From insertion of disk to appearance of front end takes over six minutes. Six. Minutes. It is hard disk-installable, but that is hardly the point, is it? Especially when, after choosing your options (a task made a chore by the bewildering array of very pretty but mostly meaningless icons) you have to wait a further five minutes for the game itself to load. Eleven minutes, all told. Enough time to watch a good Tom and Jerry cartoon (say, Solid Serenade) and make a really splendid cup of tea spent sitting in front of a loading screen. Sigh.
Kicks you entirely in the face
Now you may think I am going on a bit here, but consider this: today, the Amiga faces war on two fronts. From the West, the marching ranks of the PC compatibles, with their hard drive-based power games; from the East, the thundering brigades of the consoles with the immediacy of cartridges. Eleven minutes for loading is a joke. Moreover, a joke by Jimmy Cricket.
The game. The game is catastrophically bad. The game should never have been released in its present form. The algorithms governing play are amateurish. For example: tackling. Tackling in a footy game should be a case of running at the player with the ball and pressing fire: you then tackle him. (Or not, if we are talking about strengths and direction and so on).
With USA '94 not only do you have to time your tap on the fire button (do not press it, otherwise you will go into a treacle-slow sliding tackle and miss the ball completely) but be precisely the right position due to the inexplicable pause your player makes before moving, otherwise you get left behind looking very foolish. You can almost hear the crowd braying mockingly.
Hear the crowd braying mockingly
The most fun I had with USA '94 was to play Who Can Do The Most Laps Before Being Tackled. In this great variation on the game, one player grabs the ball and starts making circuits on the pitch. The other player has to make a successful tackle before time runs out. My worthy opponent managed two-and-a-half laps before our increasing difficulty with drawing breath between hoots of laughter brought the game to a premature close.
Playing yer actual football just does not enter into it, because when you try to do so you encounter 'features' like the 100% pass. Yes, no matter how far away you are passing to (and we could be talking opposite ends of the pitch) the ball will get there. So scoring goals consists of getting the ball, passing blindly to the player nearest the goal and blaming it in. Or eschewing the passing method and getting anywhere near the halfway line and blaming it in one time out of every two attempts made.
The ridiculous ease with which you pummel opponents sort of balances out the appalling viewpoint, which is a similar Goodyear Blimp overhead view to Sensi, but from a leaky blimp (so the players are rather bigger) and by a cameraman without a wide angle lens (so there is less of the pitch). There is a radar display inset on the top left, but what is the point, eh?
World Cup '94 is an inoperable canker on the lungs on the innocent children of the world. (Alleged... no, spot on actually. - Ed)